My local newspaper runs an annual Breast Cancer Awareness supplement. I was interviewed for one of this years’ articles, “Dealing with Diagnosis.” The article profiled three women: a woman who was diagnosed in 1999 at age 34, an 11 year survivor who is also the medical director of a local breast health center and yours truly. My part was about how journaling can help you through the process.
The article highlighted different approaches that people have to coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. After all, just like there is not just one type of breast cancer there is certainly not just one way to cope with the disease. It’s no surprise that different folks find solace through different means. But there seem to be some common steps on the path toward that sometimes elusive feeling-of- healing: be proactive about your health, exercise, volunteer and share your story in some way.
The article is not online, so here is one of my quotes:
Survivor is a misunderstood word. It’s a useful word to describe a piece of my identity, but there is not some magical point of graduation.
When do you become a breast cancer survivor? That’s a point that gets bandied about now and again. Is it the day of diagnosis? After treatment is completed? After you are cancer-free for X amount of time? Some people embrace the term and others seek distance from it.
As a self-proclaimed word nerd, I find this quite fascinating. Here is the National Cancer Institute definition of a survivor: One who remains alive and continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease. In cancer, a person is considered to be a survivor from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.